Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for President2012 (page 2 / 3)

Sen. Corker: Obama must have known what happened in Libya

Sen. Corker: Obama must have known what happened in Libya →

From Corker’s standpoint, the explanation for the administration’s public dissembling is plain. He told me, “It is strictly my opinion but the president has gone around the country spiking the football on Osama bin Laden.” Once it became clear that his boast of “vanquishing” al-Qaeda was proven false, the president, according to Corker, “panicked.” He continued, “The president worried it was going to affect the election.”

Corker is known as a workhorse in the Senate and as meticulous on the facts. In this case, he was both irate and insistent: “When four Americans are killed, it’s just not possible that the president didn’t know [it was a terrorist assault].. . . There is not a cell in my body that doesn’t earnestly believe that the administration didn’t know within 24 or 48 hours.”

Thoughts on the VP Debate

Before the debate, I predicted that Congressman Ryan would wipe the floor with VP Biden. I was wrong. I'd forgotten how good/awful of a debater VP Biden is. He's good because he's always confident and never in doubt. He's awful because he completely makes stuff up and delivers the resulting manure with complete and utter sincerity. How do you fight that without falling into the trap of constantly fact checking your opponent rather than giving your own answers?

How about an example? Last night, they were asked about whether or not the United States should intervene in Syria (given the Libya intervention). And, if not, why not? VP Biden confidently stated that we absolutely should not get involved in Syria. Syria would be a tough intervention because it "is a different country, it is five times as large geographically, it has one fifth the population." Not true. Syria is 185,000 square kilometers, while Libya is 1.7 million square kilometers. Geographically, Libya is ten times larger than Syria. Rather than Syria having one fifth the population of Libya, it actually has 4 times the population that Libya does.

Or, how about VP Biden's confident assertions that we shouldn't worry about Iran's stockpile of fissile material because "they don't have a weapon to put it in"? What kind of argument is that? Building a nuclear weapon is trivial compared to what it takes to acquire fissile material. Pakistan's A.Q. Khan sold nuclear technology to multiple countries, including Iran. If Iran did have problems building a weapon, North Korea would be more than happy to share notes. If Iran doesn't have a weapon now, it's only because they like the plausible deniability of continuing to claim that all of their enrichment is for "energy generation".

In short, VP Biden looks impressive in a debate, unless you know all of the issues well enough to spot all of the times that he's free associating and losing contact with reality. On the appearance of substance, I'd have to rate the debate a tie. Both candidates appeared that they knew what they were talking about.

However, I think VP Biden flubbed horribly on the demeanor side of the debate. He may have forgotten that his job was to persuade undecided voters. As he listened to Congressman Ryan, he spent the entire evening laughing, making faces, or sighing. When he was speaking, VP Biden often sounded angry. He was strident and loud, often shouting, and interrupted Congressman Ryan frequently. It was one of the more unpleasant debates I've ever watched. VP Biden came across as a rude, angry, boor. I know that this fired up the Democrats who already plan to vote for the President and VP. I can't imagine that this will make his ticket attractive to undecided voters. Overall, I don't think this evening was a win for the Obama-Biden ticket.

Simulating the Economic Effects of Romney's Tax Plan

Simulating the Economic Effects of Romney's Tax Plan →

The Tax Foundation runs the numbers on Romney's tax plan.

The debate over Mitt Romney’s tax plan has largely revolved around the short term concerns of who gets what and how much, rather than the more long term concerns of economic growth, job creation, deficit reduction, and tax reform. This is unfortunate, especially in a time of record unemployment and debt levels. These serious issues have been put aside to focus particularly on the results of a single study by the Tax Policy Center (TPC), which finds Romney’s tax plan would require raising taxes on low- and middle-income earners to pay for tax cuts for high-income earners. However, to get there, TPC assumes that tax rates do not matter for economic growth, i.e., Romney’s plan to cut income tax rates by 20 percent across the board will have no effect on labor supply or saving and investment decisions. Only among Washington score keepers does such an assumption make sense, but it certainly has no credibility among academic economists.

So, what will be the effect of Romney's tax plan?

The results are considerably different from TPC’s. We find that fully 60 percent of the static revenue loss from Romney’s plan is recovered when the dynamic effects of economic growth are taken into account. We find that while the cuts in the individual income tax rates do not “pay for themselves,” they do grow the economy 1.8 percent over the long run. The biggest boost to the economy comes from the 10 point cut in the corporate rate, which grows GDP by 2.3 percent, the capital stock by 6.3 percent, and the wage rate by 1.9 percent. The corporate rate cut is so economically beneficial that it does pay for itself, when all federal revenue effects are considered. So does the elimination of taxes on capital gains and dividends for middle-income earners and the estate tax.

These benefits are widely shared. Every income group experiences at least a 7 percent increase in after-tax income.

That's reform I can get behind.

Mitt’s Character, and Presidential Virtue

Mitt’s Character, and Presidential Virtue →

Kate Paulk, an Aussie, talks about her view of Mitt Romney's character.

It’s clear from Mr. Romney’s manner that he steps in whenever needed without complaint because he regards this as just something that needs to be done. And to an Australian, that attitude is admirable. We tend to respect people who do this regardless of whether we agree with their beliefs (with the caveat that those beliefs don’t harm anyone else — the kind of belief that says Person X is less than human tends to get short shrift).

Mr. Romney’s so-called “wooden” manner is also a factor here, and yes, in my view it’s admirable. The thing about MS is you don’t know what it will take next. There’s no way to predict episodes, no way to guess what area of the brain will be attacked. It can’t be pleasant for Mr. Romney to see his wife suffering this kind of deterioration, and since he needs to be strong for her, he’s built up a pleasant, cheerful demeanor so that she doesn’t see how much her pain hurts him. It also protects him to some extent: the masks allow him to defer his suffering while he deals with the more important matter — namely supporting his wife. I’d be willing to guarantee that Mr. Romney’s calm assurance is something he only drops in the presence of those he trusts absolutely and knows he won’t hurt when he drops it. After any length of time, something like this becomes reflex: it takes conscious effort to drop it.

So no, I don’t expect to see any spontaneous reaction from Mr. Romney unless he’s badly shocked, and I certainly hope he never finds himself in that position. This is a good thing. No, he will never be spontaneous in politics, but he is also unlikely to throw unseemly tantrums.

I admit. I come clean. I like Mitt Romney. I've liked him for a while now. I think he's politically awkward in the same way that I'd be awkward if I were to run for political office. But that doesn't make him a bad man. And, the more I read about him, the more I like his character.

First Debate: Roundup

Post-debate tweet of the night.

That wasn't a debate so much as Mitt Romney just took Obama for a cross country drive strapped to the roof of his car.

-- Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) October 4, 2012

Post-debate picture of the night.

How bad was Romney’s beat-down of Obama tonight? « Bob Owens

Fact Checking

Tax Breaks for Outsourcing?

I thought one of the better moments in the debate was when the question of tax breaks for outsourcing jobs came up. Romney said "Mr. President, I've been in business for 25 years and I have no idea what you're talking about." I was glad he said it, because I've had no idea what the President is talking about. It turns out, the President was mostly just making it up.

Kevin D. Williamson: The Tax Credit for Outsourcing Is Fiction.

So, here’s the deal: Business expenses are deductible against income for tax purposes. That is it.

I’m not a tax lawyer, so this will be very general, but business income is not like personal income: Your personal income is how much money you took in last year, but business income is how much money you took in minus your business expenses. As Inc. summarizes it:

All of the basic expenses necessary to run a business are generally tax-deductible, including office rent, salaries, equipment and supplies, telephone and utility costs, legal and accounting services, professional dues, and subscriptions to business publications. . . . Some other miscellaneous expenses that may be deductible in this category include computer software, charitable contributions, repairs and improvements to business property, bank service charges, consultant fees, postage, and online services.

Debbie Stabanow, for my money one of the least impressive senators (and that is saying something), introduced a bill that says, in short: Business expenses are still deductible, unless you use incur those expenses doing things I don’t want you to do.

... In other words, if you send a letter to your lawyer, the postage is a deductible expense. If you send a letter to your offshoring consultant, the postage is not a deductible expense.

So the special outsourcing tax credit isn’t really there — it’s just regular-ol’ deductible business expenses. Rather than repealing an instance of tax favoritism, Democrats (and some Republican miscreants) propose to use the tax code to inflict punitive measures on businesses that make business decisions at odds with Washington’s political preferences.

In a follow-up post Kevin Williamson quotes another authority.

Some additional perspective on President Obama’s fictitious outsourcing tax deductions via the [Joint Committee on Taxation's] score of Senator Stabenow’s bill: “Under present law, there are no specific tax credits or disallowances of deductions solely for locating jobs in the United States or overseas. Deductions generally are allowed for all ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred by the taxpayers during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business, which includes the relocation of business units.”

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Win the Post Debate Swing State Polls

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Win the Post Debate Swing State Polls →

The most recent CBS/NYTimes and Washington Post polls have Republicans at levels not seen in Florida since the 1960's. How can Romney win the coming media polls with fewer Republicans represented than when Barry Goldwater ran for President?

... Again the most recent CBS/NYTimes, Washington Post and NBC/WSJ polls have Republicans again under 30% at levels not seen in Ohio since before the Civil War

... Once again the most recent CBS/NYTimes and Washington Post polls have Republicans well under 30% as did the NBC/WSJ poll - at levels not seen in decades.

The Romney Tax Plan: Not a Tax Hike on the Middle Class

The Romney Tax Plan: Not a Tax Hike on the Middle Class →

Romney's tax plan is revenue neutral because he lowers rates while simultaneously eliminating exemptions, deductions, and other "giveaways to special interests". It's what I really want out of tax reform and it's one of the things that makes me look forward to a Romney administration.

Alex Brill, of the American Enterprise Institute, breaks down how the Romney plan would work and why the math, contra the Brookings Institute, doesn't point to a tax hike.

In summary:

Romney has proposed a bold tax reform that would broaden the tax base and lower statutory tax rates across the board. While maintaining preferential rates for savings and investment, his proposal repeals the tax expenditures that distort economic decisions and add complexity to tax returns.

Although Obama has no such plan for tax reform, his vision for the tax system appears clear. He has refused to endorse the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which would also have lowered statutory tax rates and broadened the tax base. Instead, his near-singular focus has been to raise statutory tax rates for high-income households and to leave untouched hundreds of special tax breaks for various political constituencies.

Mitt Romney's effective tax rate is very low: Most economists think it should be.

Mitt Romney's effective tax rate is very low: Most economists think it should be. →

Matt Yglesias, not known as a Republican booster, defends Mitt Romney's tax rate.

The main reason Romney's effective rate is so low is that the American tax code contains a lot of preferences for investment income over labor income. That's something that strikes many people as unfair on its face, and particularly unfair since it often means very low rates for extremely rich people like Romney. And Romney himself as a rich guy who's also a member of the political party seen as favoring the rich, and who's been recorded as whining that the working poor are undertaxed is perhaps not an ideal messenger for a defense of this policy.

But this is definitely an issue where the conservative position is in line with what most experts think is the right course, and Democrats are outside the mainstream.

Number-Cruncher on Polls’ History of Underestimating the GOP

Number-Cruncher on Polls’ History of Underestimating the GOP →

This is why I keep saying that I have no idea what will happen on election day. Everything depends on turnout and, right now, we have absolutely no idea whether more Democrats or Republicans will turn out. The 2008 election was a massive year for Democrats, while the 2010 election was a massive year for Republicans. What will the 2012 election be?

Here is what people should know is bothering pollsters, and if you’re a Republican you can feel comfortable that what you are reading is based on guess work assumptions:

In 2010, we saw the country move back to 2004 levels, but we also saw a bubbling of the Tea Party, who are among the most enthusiastic of voters. Also 2010 was a midterm, where the overall turnout of registered voters is considerably lower, and the GOP base turns out better in non-presidential years than the Democrats’ base. So we process this data.

We saw in 1994 the GOP do very well, but in 1996 Clinton won easily. But sometimes a party’s momentum from the midterms carries on to the following year; we saw the Democrats add to their 2006 gains in 2008. So will 2012 be a receding of the tide of the midterms (like 1996) or an acceleration (like 2008)?

Of course in 1996, the economy was soaring and right now, we’re crawling… so you make the judgment on where this should be.

Even using logical deductions, it is difficult to get a read on what the 2012 partisan divide will be because we’ve seen it change so quickly. From 1994 through 2004, the partisan divide was fairly stable, moving no more than 2 points from cycle to cycle.

Personally I think its safe to say that 2008 is not going to happen in 2012, any pollster hanging their hat on 2008 sampling cannot be reasonably relied on…

Only 9% of Americans Cooperate with Pollsters

Only 9% of Americans Cooperate with Pollsters →

At Pew Research, the response rate of a typical telephone survey was 36% in 1997 and is just 9% today.

You read that correctly: In any attempted poll or survey, only 9% of attempted contacts come back with an actual response.

That means 91% of sampled households are NOT having their opinions recorded by pollsters.

... 53% of Americans actively refuse to answer poll questions.

Interesting. I wonder what this means in terms of polling accuracy? I don't know enough about statistics to know if you can still get an accurate statistical sample, if enough people are actively refusing to participate.

This entry was tagged. President2012

The Washington Post’s hatchet job on Paul Ryan

The Washington Post’s hatchet job on Paul Ryan →

Lori Montgomery wrote an article in the Washington Post heavily criticizing Paul Ryan for not doing enough to solve America's debt crisis. Keith Hennessey rips into her article and exposes it for the politically motivated hackery that it is.

She writes that Mr. Ryan did draft a blueprint for wiping out deficits by 2040, but she fails to mention that he passed that plan through the House. She does not report that Mr. Ryan's staff were providing behind-the-scenes technical assistance to Speaker Boehner during the Grand Bargain negotiation. She doesn't report that Mr. Ryan loaned his budget committee staff director to Mr. Hensarling on the super committee. She doesn't mention that Mr. Ryan's prediction that the super committee would fail came true, or that the Obama White House was AWOL during the super committee negotiations. She doesn't mention that he voted for the Budget Control At of 2011, for the tax rate extensions at the end of 2010, and for the FY 2012 Omnibus Appropriations Act, three major bipartisan fiscal laws that deeply split House Republicans.

The Libertarian Case for Mitt Romney

The Libertarian Case for Mitt Romney →

Stephen Green makes the libertarian case for Romney.

Since the father of RomneyCare isn’t exactly an easy sell to libertarians, first we have to look at the man already sitting in the Oval Office. And it’s safe to say that unlike 2008, in 2012 there is absolutely zero Libertarian case to be made for Barack Obama.

... We don’t get to choose this year between “good” and “better’” — have we ever enjoyed that choice? But we do get a sharp distinction this year between “bad” and “worse.”

I’m going with “bad” because I’m not sure we’ll survive another term of the worst.

I think that about sums up my own position. I'm moderately hopeful that a President Romney would moderately decrease regulations. I'm positive that President Obama would not only not roll them back, he'd attempt to increase them.

Fact-checking the factcheckers on Ryan’s speech

Fact-checking the factcheckers on Ryan’s speech →

Seems like fact checkers need to do some fact checking of their own assumptions.  Paul Ryan’s speech last night included a reference to a GM plant in Janesville that closed, which Ryan used to criticize Barack Obama for failing to meet his campaign promises.  A number of “fact” checkers jumped all over Ryan’s anecdote to claim that he lied about the circumstances of the plant’s closure.

Ed Morrissey does a detailed fact check of the fact checkers' hysteria over Paul Ryan's references to the GM plant in Janesville, WI.

More Importantly, Why Did the Janesville Plant Close?

More Importantly, Why Did the Janesville Plant Close? →

Wisconsin's own Christian Schneider talks about the forces that drove GM to close the plant in Janesville, WI.

While plant closings are always complex issues, two main issues (both somewhat embarrassing to the Left) played a large role: the heavy burden of organized labor and misplaced government intervention in the automotive marketplace.

As George Will wrote at the time, by 2005, GM had essentially become a health-care company that also happened to make automobiles.

Yes, Paul Ryan Spoke the Truth About Obama's Fiscal Record at the Republican Convention

Yes, Paul Ryan Spoke the Truth About Obama's Fiscal Record at the Republican Convention →

Progressive bloggers and TV personalities are up in arms about Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention last night. Several of their accusations revolve around Paul Ryan’s own fiscal record, and his description of President Obama’s. I asked my liberal friends on Twitter to send me an itemized list of Ryan’s alleged lies, and they kindly obliged. So far, Ryan appears to have the better of the argument.

Avik Roy fact checks the fact checkers, over Paul Ryan's convention speech.

Romney and Ryan’s Racial Codes

Romney and Ryan’s Racial Codes →

Deroy Murdock, with some wonderful satire.

After GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s rousing and effective convention acceptance speech last week, I found myself snapping my fingers as the GOP convention’s band in Tampa played that old hit, “Living in America.” Suddenly, it dawned on me: Team Romney might be transmitting racial messages.

I consulted my copy of the definitive reference on this topic, A Black Man’s Guide to Whitey’s Racial Code, by Jesse Jackson and Kanye West (Sharpton Books, 2010). I flipped past the highly apologetic introduction by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.). Just as I suspected, page 178 confirmed that “Living in America” was a Billboard Top 4 song by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. This, as Jackson and West teach us, is a subtle message designed to remind Caucasians that President Obama has brown skin. Also, the song was written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight. It doesn’t get any darker than midnight.

We recommend Mitt Romney for president

We recommend Mitt Romney for president →

The Dallas Morning News endorses Mitt Romney. (Not that Romney needs help in Texas...) I like the points that they made.

Romney had to survive a fractious primary by steering too far right on some issues. At his core, however, we see him as a “Chamber of Commerce Republican,” more attuned to business interests than the tea party/social conservatism that defines today’s GOP.

... Obama has cited, with some justification, recalcitrance from congressional Republicans for thwarting him. But in his first two years, when Democrats had a wide margin in the House and filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama’s wounds were self-inflicted. He put his chips on a necessary but ill-conceived stimulus program and a massive health care overhaul. Left to languish were a broad-based energy bill, comprehensive immigration reform, entitlement reform and, most ominously, effective job-creation programs.

Obama’s people warned of unemployment rates as high as 8 percent without the stimulus spending, only to see rates exceed 8 percent, anyway, for 43 consecutive months — and counting. Real household income has fallen in consecutive years. Food stamp enrollment has hit record highs; the percentage of adults in the workforce approaches record lows.

The Libya Debacle

The Libya Debacle →

None of the initial explanations offered by the White House and State Department since the assault on the Benghazi consulate has held up. ... Administration officials also maintained that the diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, the site of the first attacks this September 11, were properly defended and that the U.S. had no reason to prepare for any attack. ... As it turned out, the assault was well-coordinated, with fighters armed with guns, RPGs and diesel canisters, which were used to set the buildings on fire. Ambassador Chris Stevens died of smoke inhalation.

Why isn't this a foreign policy scandal? Is the media protecting their candidate or is there another legitimate reason that the press isn't hammering the President and State Department about this?

To Protect Medicare, Reform It

To Protect Medicare, Reform It →

Veronique de Rugy is worried that Romney / Ryan's talk about "protecting Medicare" means that they won't really push to reform it.

The only way to ensure that Medicare is there “for my generation, and for my kids and yours,” reform it. If when Representative Ryan says “protect” and “strengthen” he means “reform Medicare,” great. Reform can take many forms, obviously. But, then we can believe Ryan when he says “ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate.”

She lays out all of the reasons why Medicare desperately needs to be reformed, if it's to survive at all. It's worth a read, especially if you're not convinced about the necessity of reforming Medicare.

Parents: How Much College Do You Owe Your Kids?

Parents: How Much College Do You Owe Your Kids? →

Legere said his daughter felt an expensive school was a given. Instead, he was pushing for her to attend a state school close by, the University of Buffalo, maybe, which cost only $17,000. Though he could afford the higher tuition, he gave her a choice: He’d pay the full cost of a state school, but if she attended the costlier college she’d have to take out loans.

Legere, a businessman, sat his daughter down and ran the numbers. He explained she would need to take out about $30,000 in loans a year. He estimated that paying a total of $120,000 in loans for 10 years at 4 percent interest would cost her $1,200 a month, or the first $9.00 an hour from her salary for 10 years.

"It's like buying a new car, driving it into a river at the end of the year, and having nothing to show for it," Legere recalls saying. "I told her it would be fiscally irresponsible of me to let her assume that debt." The day after that conversation, the young woman texted her mother: Please send a deposit to the University of Buffalo.

Contrast this bit of budgetary wisdom with President Obama's campaign pledge: "No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don't have the money". President Obama's campaign peddles the myth that a more expensive education is a better education. His desire doesn't reduce the cost of college. It just makes other people pay for it, on the theory that you're entitled to have anything you want.